Intragastric balloon outcomes in super-obesity: a 16-year city center hospital series

Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2018 Nov;14(11):1691-1699. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2018.07.010. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Background: Intragastric balloons represent an endoscopic therapy aimed at achieving weight loss by mechanical induction of satiety. Their exact role within the bariatric armamentarium remains uncertain.

Objective: Our study aimed to evaluate the use of intragastric balloon therapy alone and before definitive bariatric surgery over a 16-year period.

Setting: A large city academic bariatric center for super-obese patients.

Methods: Between January 2000 and February 2016, 207 patients underwent ORBERA intragastric balloon placement at esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Four surgeons performed the procedures, and data were entered prospectively into a dedicated bariatric database. Patients' weight loss data were measured through body mass index (BMI) and excess weight loss and recorded at each clinic review for up to 5 years (60 mo). Treatment arms included intragastric balloon alone with lifestyle therapy or intragastric balloon and definitive bariatric surgery: gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. An additional treatment arm of analysis included the overall results from intragastric balloon followed by stapled procedure.

Results: One hundred twenty-nine female and 78 male patients had a mean age of 44.5 (±11.3) years and a mean BMI of 57.3 (±9.7) kg/m2. Fifty-eight percent of patients suffered from type 2 diabetes. Time from initial or first balloon insertion to definitive surgical therapy ranged between 9 and 13 months. Seventy-six patients had intragastric balloon alone, and 131 had intragastric balloon followed by definitive procedure. At 60 months postoperatively the intragastric balloon alone with lifestyle changes demonstrated an excess weight loss of 9.04% and BMI drop of 3.8; intragastric balloon with gastric banding demonstrated an excess weight loss of 32.9% and BMI drop of 8.9. Intragastric balloon and definitive stapled procedure demonstrated a BMI drop of 17.6 and an excess weight loss of 52.8%. Overall, there were 3 deaths (1.4%), 2 within 10 days due to acute gastric perforation secondary to vomiting and 1 cardiac arrest at 4 weeks postoperatively.

Conclusion: Intragastric balloons can offer effective weight loss in selected super-obese patients within a dedicated bariatric center offering multidisciplinary support. Balloon insertion alone offers only short-term weight loss; however, when combined with definitive bariatric surgical approaches, durable weight loss outcomes can be achieved. A strategy of early and continual vigilance for side effects and a low threshold for removal should be implemented. Surgeon and unit experience with intragastric balloons can contribute to "kick starting" successful weight loss as a bridge to definitive therapy in an established bariatric surgical pathway.

Keywords: Balloon; Bariatric; Endoscopic; Intragastric; Weight loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery* / adverse effects
  • Bariatric Surgery* / mortality
  • Bariatric Surgery* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastric Balloon* / adverse effects
  • Gastric Balloon* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Weight Loss*